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Meeting each other through stories
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Pass it on
I'm reading
Meeting each other through stories
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Meeting each other through stories
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
13 August 2021

Meeting each other through stories

Dusk Liney reflects on the act of listening in our recent “Storytelling for Change” course.

Written by Dusk Liney

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Discussed in this Story

I sneak into the Zoom session early. In the “Storytelling for Change” workshop, 16 little squares appear on my screen, each with a person, each with their own story. I feel like the kids in Mary Poppins, standing before the chalk drawing scenes that Bert has created on the concrete path. Within each square, I can see a glimpse of the life within it.

As I notice the details in the images, I begin to imagine the invisible stories they hold. There’s a blanket strewn across a lap, and my mind gives words to the possibilities of what isn’t seen. I picture someone knitting nervously as they wait for news. I feel the joy in the moment this blanket is gifted. I feel the love of a mother as she tenderly wraps it around her child. I breathe in all the possibilities, taking a moment to honour each person on my screen, acknowledging all they have lived and hold in this moment.

I have always been fascinated by what can’t be seen. The wind in the trees, the feeling of love, the space between two people. For the past 20 years, whatever I have done and wherever I’ve been, I have found myself listening – whether I am at a party, an airport or the checkout at the shops. I hear about childhoods, migration journeys, birth experiences; life, joy, trauma – the stories that so often slip between the cracks.

Through that, I have found a way to hold space for others to speak their truth. I invite people to listen to their inner voice through contemplative circles. I facilitate programs to allow people to come home to themselves. I bear witness to women and birth-givers as they birth their babies and enter matrescence.

Whatever the context, I hold space in the same way – honouring my own story as I embrace the story of another. In reverence for the life this person has lived and the wisdom it has shaped, I bring full presence to all they are and all they bring in a given moment. I invite them deeper into their inner landscape, understanding that it is their wisdom they need to meet, not mine.

Recognising that my way of listening aligns with the “Storytelling for Change” class, the co-ordinator Nathan Scolaro called me to facilitate one of the story circles. Participants had written a story during the course, and this final session is their invitation to share it with a smaller group. Informed by Parker Palmer’s Circle of Trust Touchstones, we crafted a set of guiding principles for the session:

  • Who you are and the story you share is welcome here
  • We honour your offering to community and to your self
  • Share in a way that suits the truest expression of who you are
  • Listen with silence, presence and an openness to receive
  • Observe with curiosity what people’s stories stir in you
  • Be with what stirs you as you are able
  • Listen to the parts of you that are lit up, and feel into these moments
  • Hold the confidentiality of what is shared within the circle

From the Zoom filled with 16 squares, we parted ways into two breakout rooms. There are six people before me. I notice the expressions on their faces: excitement, nerves, anticipation. The chalk drawings of their lives feel more intimate, and we are about to jump into their scenes.

I won’t share the beauty of what was spoken in the circle. That is held in confidence. I will share what it evoked in me. I recalled car rides with Mum where we sang and laughed with deep joy, burning the pages of my journal that held the story of who I was, moments of motherhood where my darkest fears were met with love. The lonely places in me were filled with life. I was invited to see my Mum again in memories, to remember who I am and that I am not alone. Within the stories of each other, I found myself.

As I witness these stories, I remember Berry Liberman’s words from the start of the gathering: “Storytelling is an act of love and it is healing.” We have experienced this deeply in the circles. The unmet parts of ourselves have met. We are now connected to the collective experience of humanity. As I close the lid of my laptop, I carry the stories with me and honour the gift of listening.

Dusk Liney

Dusk is a circle facilitator, matrescence educator and doula. She witnesses people’s stories and inner wisdom at The Listening Squad and The Listening Mama. Dusk holds contemplative conversations on how listening shapes our way of being in the world on the podcast The Listening Way.

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